An artistic portrayal of human intricacies – that’s what the audience can expect when Kenny Shim & Collective and British-based Mobius Dance present their dance works this weekend at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) in Petaling Jaya.
The collaborative effort called Mix Bill, from Aug 2-4, will see four contemporary works being performed by nine dancers, four of whom are local.
Under the artistic direction of Gianluca Vincentini, Mobius Dance will present an energetic and highly physical performance featuring two robust works, bringing together two generations of choreographers Jamaal Burkmar and Douglas Thorpe.
“Lovers of both dance and music will be enthralled by Burkmar’s Time Moves Slow, an incredibly passionate, fast-paced and dynamic work, where relentless physicality pulls the dancers to their extremes,” says Vincentini in an interview.
Burkmar’s offering is seen through four different perspectives, inspired by four different songs and acknowledges four heroes tasked with climbing the same mountain and overcoming the same challenge – embracing the choice to do it together rather than alone.
“On the other hand, Thorpe creates a powerful, theatrical piece in Dramatis Personae, which plays with the peculiarities of four characters, whose awkward interactions result in a work with compelling and intertwined dynamics.
“The two pieces provide a thrilling contrast of movement and dance. It is a chance to see young dancers who are at the peak of their fitness, training and performance to tackle the rich, quality and diverse choreographic approaches of Burkmar and Thorpe,” he adds.
Originally from Italy, Vincentini founded the company in 2016 and believes that dance can reveal the complexity of our intimate connections to each other, without compromising entertainment.
“The commissioned choreographer’s work is accessible in nature and style while remaining a refreshing and entertaining evening of dance for those with a more accustomed dance palette,” he says, pointing out that each choreographer’s work represents his individual spirit while embracing the multicultural face of the world.
Slowly carving a name for himself in the local circuit is Shim, who will explore the human intricacies in a thought-provoking dance work entitled Shades Of Shadow, based on Swiss-born British writer Alain de Botton’s book The Course Of Love. The book piqued his curiosity to dig deeper into understanding human empathy between relationships and how such empathy (or lack of) leads to the possibility of inequality in a relationship.
“There is a quote in the book that I resonated deeply with ‘The modern expectation is that there will be equality in all things. In a couple, which means, at heart, an equality of suffering. But calibrating grief to ensure an equal dosage is no easy task; misery is experiences subjectively, and there is always a temptation for each party to form a sincere yet competitive conviction that, in truth, his or her life is really more cursed,’” reveals Shim.
Watch how this quote unfolds in dance form.
It was literally love at first class when Shim started learning ballet at a late age of 17. Flowing with passion, he took a leap of faith, auditioned and was accepted at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance.
He eventually completed his masters at the London Contemporary Dance School, and after spending seven years abroad, Shim returned home in 2017 to contribute to the development of the Malaysian contemporary dance scene.
“I was very fortunate to have met Gianluca during my time in Edge Dance Company and we’ve kept in contact. He is interested in nurturing dance artistes to their fullest potential, which trickles down to the artistes he hires for his company.
“He curates work that is both accessible to new contemporary dance audiences as well as veterans of the practice. The pieces entertain and engage the audience through the world of highly ‘physicalised’ dancing,” he says.
The final dance piece Human is a collaborative work between dancers from both companies, co-choreographed by Vincentini and Shim.
It explores the entwined nature of movement and emotion, while looking at the current condition of humanity. The starting point of the work is a reflection Vincentini wrote, which goes like this: “Happy smile, Happy war, Happy living together, But perhaps not too close, Excitement yields calm, Calm turns melancholic, Melancholy induces panic, Our senses mute, Such hopeful desperation attempts harmony”.
“This work has been created with the performers, who have contributed by devising material based on movement tasks. Images and emotional states were introduced to the performers so that, together, we could find the appropriate form and aesthetic. Individuality was encouraged as much as the sharing of personal stories,” says Vincentini.
Shim concludes, “Unlike learning a repertoire, all the dancers are in the studio together. This encourages further exchange of dance practices and working culture. The exchange enhances the work with ‘flavour’ and diversity.”